We’re scrutinising our financials to pull back a potentially high rate increase in year one of our draft 2024-2034 Long Term Plan.
Chief Executive, Gavin Ion says the Council has asked staff to work on what savings can be made, without compromising the services the community relies on.
“This will be the most challenging Long Term Plan we’ve had to deliver for our district. The projects we planned three years ago will cost significantly more to deliver to the community,” says Mr Ion.
Affordability and debt are the Council’s biggest concerns, caused by high inflation and interest rates and growing compliance demands from central government.
Construction costs have increased faster than inflation.
Mr Ion says the Council has $2.2 billion worth of assets, $1.9 billion of which relate to core infrastructure such as water, wastewater, stormwater, and roading assets. To manage those assets well, the Council needs to collect money to gradually upgrade and replace those assets over time.
“Our Council is already working to carefully prioritise our projects, services and activities as part of the LTP process. It’s a fine balance, delivering services to a standard that will meet the community’s expectations, while also managing the needs of a burgeoning district in this current economic climate,” says Mr Ion.
“Some tough decisions will need to be made next year to keep rates affordable. We simply won’t be able to do it all, he adds”
The Long Term Plan is a strategic plan that outlines the Council's activities, and how they are managed, delivered, and funded over the next decade. Traditionally, it has been visionary and transformational, setting out an array of new projects and services to improve social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing.
“Councils across the country are all grappling with the same issues. We have very little in the tank for any new projects beyond those already outlined in our previous Long Term Plan. If we are to make more savings, it may mean reprioritising or removing some of those projects that were previously approved, and that’s a difficult conversation to have with our community.”
Mayor Jacqui Church says the Council is committed to getting out and about across the district from March 2024 to discuss the draft 2024-2034 Long Term with the community and get feedback on what should be prioritised and what is most important to them.